Sean Whistling Straits

The Social Balance of Playing Top 100 Golf Courses

Obviously the hardest part about playing the Top 100 golf courses is access to many of them.

The question I get asked most is usually “how are you going to get on Augusta?”

The answer? I have no idea, but really, that’s the least of my concerns right now.

When you aren’t a member of a prestigious club, are young, and because of such, don’t have the money and the connections as say a NYC investment banker, getting access to any private course is difficult.

But that’s one of the reasons I want to do this – to prove that even if you aren’t part of that elite circle, it is possible to make things happen and play golf at some of the best courses in the world.

However, the toughest part of this for me personally is working my way through the delicate social balance of getting introductions – or the path to getting access to a course.

For the last few months, pretty much anyone I meet I’m telling them about my quest to play the top 100. You never know who knows someone.

However the part I like least is the constant ask.

I’ve played rounds with pros at clubs in Portland, met friends of friends for drinks all over the country, and sent countless emails to people I’ve never met.

All of these people I genuinely want to build relationships with, and the last thing I want to do is be the guy that’s constantly looking for favors. – but often I end up being the guy constantly asking for favors!

On the flip side, if you don’t ask you never know…right?

This has been the biggest struggle of trying to gain access to courses: learning to balance the social aspect of it. How do you prove you’re genuine, while also working to get what you want?

I’ve found it even more difficult when there’s an impending trip.

If I were going to say, Seattle, then it’s a bit easier to just say “hey, happen to have any connections at Sahalee?”

But for this NYC trip, there are NINETEEN top courses within a 3 hour drive of The City, and big surprise, 18 of them are private.

While you’d think that would make it easier to find connections, it actually makes it more difficult.

You get into a conversation with someone, and inevitably they’ll say, “well, where do you want to get on?”

“Any of these 18 places….”

It’s not personal, and it makes it look like you’re just trying to cross numbers of a list, as opposed to being  genuinely interested in playing the courses and meeting the people associated with those clubs.

Which sure, I am trying to cross courses of a list, but what I’ve found is that any of the courses I play when I travel, Top 100 or not, are a unique and memorable experience – so I really am excited to play them all.

While half the fun of trying to accomplish the goal is figuring out how to do it, I’m starting to learn that I hate being the guy always asking for connections or favors. It’s a tricky balance, and one that I think I’m slowly learning to navigate a bit better.

So while I’m not entirely sure where things go from here, the fun is in the adventure and the unknown. To date, the people I’ve met have been amazing, as has their generosity and genuine interest in the project.

Hopefully I can keep that up, while getting the social aspect to the point where I’m building relationships for the long term as opposed to just leveraging them to get on a golf course.

I’ll be in NYC from June 8th-17th. In the area? Let me know!

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  1. Chris Blessington

    Hey Sean —

    I really like the tone of your site — just the right balance between objective information and personal experience. Your review of the Arccos system is what put me over the top to buy one. Only a couple of rounds in, but really like a lot so far.

    But I digress…the reason I’m writing is to offer to host you at Sahalee sometime that you’re in Seattle. I noticed that you used Sahalee as an example in this article and that you haven’t yet checked it off your list of the Top 100. Happy to help if I can. Feel free to reach out if it’s something you’d like to pursue.

    • Sean Ogle

      Thanks Chris, I really appreciate the thoughts! Yeah I’m a huge fan of Arccos – and I’m excited about some of the updates they’re rolling out soon.

      I’d LOVE to play Sahalee. Will shoot you an email now 🙂

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